ESCC Student Joins the College Faculty
Clearing hurdles and achieving success
Shannon Seward’s story is resonating with many who have had to overcome obstacles to achieve a goal and be the person they aspire to be. In recent weeks Shannon’s ESCC journey has been shared in broader circles and is impacting even more to be inspired by her success.
Shannon’s achievements have come through her own initiative and gumption, along with some help from opportunities and support that she received at Eastern Shore Community College.
Shannon entered ESCC welding classes part-time in 2019 as a single mom in her late twenties with two young sons. With the help of financial aid and the guidance of ESCC Career Coach Debbie Daniels, she was selected for an internship at NASA’s Wallops Island flight facility, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport.
Training as a maintenance technician during the 12-week internship, Shannon knew the experience of working in a male-dominated field would present challenges.
Shannon said, “I learned a lot from the guys I worked with, and they all treated me with respect. I went in feeling nervous, intimidated, and inadequate, and I left feeling confident, capable, strong, and more prepared for a career.”
It hasn’t been easy for Shannon. She faced challenges along the way with housing, transportation, food insecurity, and more. A grant to the ESCC Foundation provided dinner on the run with healthy snacks in grab and go bags, and Food Lion gift cards helped with groceries.
Mrs. Daniels connected Shannon with the Eastern Shore Coalition Against Domestic Violence which provided pro bono legal aid to assist with custody issues.
While working part-time for ESCC’s building and grounds department, Shannon completed her welding career studies certificate at Eastern Shore Community College in May 2020. She is now employed full-time at ESCC and recently used her welding skills to build a tool rack for the department.
She explains, “I overcame diagnosed anxiety because of the support and opportunities at ESCC.”
Last month, Shannon was selected by the Virginia Community College System to participate in an online event organized by the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice at Temple University. This research organization conducted a statewide survey of over 10,000 community college students last fall. The survey painted a sobering view of non-academic barriers that students face before even entering a classroom. Shannon’s participation and testimony was the focal point of the event. She shared her story, struggle, and ultimate success at Eastern Shore Community College.
Dr. Van Wilson, VCCS Associate Vice Chancellor, commented “What Shannon shared with us has been inspirational. We need to appreciate her story, and the fact that she has changed the trajectory of her life, and the lives of her children.”
Shannon said, “the college was there for me when no one else was.”
She also noted that asking for help is difficult for many of us. Shannon received extra services at the college beyond the classroom because one of her instructors referred her to our coaching staff and ESCC supports committee. It’s just one example of how Your Eastern Shore Community College strives to serve the whole student, not just their academics.
The impact from Shannon sharing her journey did not stop there. By the end of June, her story was appearing through the Associated Press and various media outlets including US News.
From part-time to full-time student to full-time employee, Shannon will soon add adjunct instructor to her list of accomplishments. She will join the ESCC college faculty as a dual enrollment instructor in welding this fall.
If you find inspiration in Shannon’s success and are ready to change your own course in life, say YES!—YOUR Eastern Shore Community College is here to help you enroll, succeed, and become employed.